Florida Governor Ron DeSantis doesn’t want to be in the photo with Joe Biden. The President of the United States traveled to Florida this Saturday to inquire about the damage caused by Hurricane Idalia as it passed through the state. DeSantis, who attended an event with Biden after the devastating Hurricane Ian passed through in October last year, this time avoided the illustrious visitor who has become a rival for Republicans to beat in the 2024 presidential election In politics, this time not even a natural disaster helped to publicly bury the hatchet.
Republicans are still criticizing former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for hugging then-President Barack Obama to thank him for federal aid to ease the effects of devastating Hurricane Sandy. Christie, now also a candidate, was criticized in the first primary debate. DeSantis is already doing poorly enough in the polls even if he doesn’t face Biden, who is demonized by the Republican base.
The president and governor spoke by phone this week and the federal government has provided assistance in hurricane response efforts, but before Biden’s arrival, DeSantis said only that the logistics of a presidential trip had complicated rescue tasks.
Biden was criticized for his slow and clumsy political response to the Hawaii fire in August, when he responded to the first question about the incident: “No comment.” This time he expected to see DeSantis, he said Friday. Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Deanne Criswell prepared the visit with DeSantis’ team, and both she and White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre have assured that she gave no indication that she would not be present. “It’s not about politics. It doesn’t matter if it’s a red state [republicano] or a blue state [demócrata]“The president will appear and be there for the community,” said Jean-Pierre. Although the governor later expressed his opposition to the visit, he has decided to go anyway.
Biden flew by helicopter over Suwanee County, the area hardest hit by the hurricane, and then flew to Live Oak, its capital, a city of just under 7,000 people. He met with the emergency teams, whom he praised for their work, and with those affected, to whom he promised further help during an operation in front of one of the houses damaged by the hurricane.
“There hasn’t been such a strong wind in 100 years, and let’s pray that it won’t be like this again in another 100 years,” he said. And although DeSantis was not present, he made it clear that there had been communication between them during the crisis. “I have been in frequent contact with Gov. DeSantis since the storm hit the country,” he said, adding that it took him just six hours to issue a “major disaster declaration” after the governor requested it. “We are making federal systems available to those affected in Florida whose businesses and homes were damaged and destroyed,” he continued, listing resources deployed locally. “After the storm passes, we’re not going anywhere. “The federal government is there to help the country as long as it is needed,” he added.
Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without restrictions.
Suspension of the campaign
DeSantis paused his campaign over Idalia, whose impact was much less destructive and deadly than Ian’s last year. In this election campaign, his attempt to confront Trump in the Republican race has failed for the time being.
The latest poll, released Saturday by the Wall Street Journal, shows Trump is the favorite of 59% of Republican voters, despite (or thanks to) his four indictments for dozens of crimes. In the aforementioned poll, DeSantis is in second place with 13%, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is in third place with 8%, and credits the Republican primary’s revelation candidate, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, with just 5%, taking the rest of the candidates in first place is in a marginal position.
Although DeSantis is the second choice for 35% of voters, his chances of success depend on Trump not being in the race, which seems highly unlikely. The former president could have won the primaries if the first verdict of guilt or innocence is made in one of the pending criminal cases. For now, he has exploited the allegations to gain funds and votes.
The WSJ poll would place Trump ahead of Biden in voting intentions, 40% to 39%. The support redirected to the fringe Green and Libertarian candidates (3% total) may end up being important, but the ones who will really make the difference are the roughly 17% of undecideds, a fishing ground in which Trump is likely to have greater difficulty winning votes.
Follow all international information on Facebook and Twitteror in our weekly newsletter.